As a solopreneur or small business owner, it’s easy for long-term planning to fall off your to-do list. Seeking out clients, promoting your business and doing client work becomes a priority during your day-to-day work. Without the right business planning in place, you can get years into your work before realizing you haven’t taken the right steps to evolve your business to the level you expected it to be at. There has to be a better way to plan long-term, than just writing ideas down and forgetting to act on them, right?
The only way to achieve your long term business goals is to properly plan for them. If you’re not a naturally organized person, that idea might make you want to immediately scroll right past this article and never look back. But I promise these are simple painless steps to long-term planning, building structure, and making big strides in prioritizing your long-term business goals.
Set up a time each week to review your ideas and prioritize them.
Sometimes I get blindsided by a great idea and want to act on it immediately. But when I look back on work I did quickly after inspiration hit me, it’s not as refined and as well thought-out as it could have been if I’d worked through it more thoroughly.
Throughout each week, I keep a page in my notebook (I’m an old school pen and paper type of gal) open next to my to-do list, where I jot down ideas for blog posts, client worksheets, social media posts, website copy, and any other large business goals and concepts that I came up with over the last few days. Every Friday afternoon while making a new to-do list for the following week, I also take a look over my weekly idea sheet. If I still think it’s an idea worth pursuing in the week ahead and it fits into my schedule, I’ll pop it on next week’s list. Anything that isn’t an immediate action item, I put on my idea wall (more on that below).
Make an idea wall.
So, what to do with those ideas you’re not going to act on right away? Store them! I need things in front of me to remember to actually do them, so I have a physical idea wall next to my desk. I have running paper lists of blog ideas, social media posts, and bigger ideas for my business. Also, I’m an avid Pinterest pinner. Whenever I see colors, branding, illustrations, and more that I’d love to use, I make sure to save them on my Pinterest boards. This way, they’re tucked away in one place so I can look at them whenever I need them.
Keep yourself in check with monthly and quarterly goals.
For all of those larger business goals, I have monthly and quarterly check-ins with myself to tackle them. As a small business owner, it’s often difficult to prioritize those big picture ideas; I use these check-ins to break long-term planning into manageable pieces. At the beginning of every quarter, I map out an overarching goal for my business, with smaller action items for each month of that quarter.
Usually, the goals for my months and quarters evolve organically through what I’ve been putting on my idea wall and to-do lists, and fit in with the needs of both my clients and my business. For example, I already know my main Q4 goal will be to create more content through courses and blog posts. One of my smaller monthly goals might be to complete writing and designing a course for clients, or to create a social media content calendar for the upcoming year.
Although priorities may change depending on extenuating circumstances, it’s often easier to set your business priorities with a clear mindset when you know what you’re choosing to focus on that quarter. Establishing clear goals and long-term planning for your business will help you achieve goals and see true growth in your business.
Build long-term planning into your payment structure and hourly time.
Last, but certainly not least. One of the biggest (and easiest!) mistakes an entrepreneur can make is not making sure they have the time and money to allow themselves to prioritize strategically growing their business. Be sure to work at least a few hours a week growing your own business through check-ins and website, social media, and blog management. Figure out the best way for build those hours into your payment structure so you feel comfortable spending non-billable hours on yourself. Building this into your long-term structure will allow you to be more organized when it come to growing your company, and not letting that growth fall by the wayside.